It was somewhat surprising when Rory McIlroy’s name did not appear on the list of players scheduled to face the golfing media ahead of this week’s Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in suburban Charlotte, North Carolina.
McIlroy is a three-time former winner of the tournament, and along with the season-ending Tour Championship, it’s the only PGA Tour event he has also won on three occasions.
The golfer, who turns 34 tomorrow (Thursday), obviously had his reasons in not wishing to attend a formal press conference, returning as he is to a first tournament since the bitter disappointment in missing the halfway cut in last month’s Masters.
However, he did speak to a handful of media he knows well and in doing so, he slammed his Augusta National showing, and also spoke of the controversy in choosing not to tee-up in the following week’s RBC Heritage Classic, as he was required under the provisions of the new PGA Tour $US 20m ‘designated’ tournaments.
“It sucked. It sucked,” McIlroy said of his Augusta anguish in speaking with ESPN.
“It’s not the performance I obviously thought I was going to put up, nor was it the performance I wanted. Just incredibly disappointing.”
“I needed some time to regroup and focus on what’s ahead.”
And McIlroy’s decision not to travel the some three-hour drive south-east from Augusta National to Hilton Head meant facing a $US 3m fine under the regulations of the new ‘designated’ events, and a provision that he as a member of the PGA Tour Players board would have voted. Such a hefty fine, by anyone’s standard’, is based on the fact McIlroy’s already earned over $US 12m in prize-money this 2022/23 wraparound PGA Tour season.
McIlroy believed it better he be at home with his family in West Palm Beach “in order to get some things in place” rather carry the emotional baggage of a poor Masters showing down to Hilton Head.
“My mind wouldn’t have been there,” he said. “It was more important for me to be at home than there.”
And now the World No. 3 is returning to competition since his Masters meltdown, it’s time he declared to focus on “the entire season still to play”.
“I’ve always thought I’ve had a good handle on the perspective on things and sort of where golf fits within my life, and trying to find purpose outside of golf in some way,” McIlroy said.
“But I think over the last 12 months, I sort of lost sight of that. I’d lost sight of the fact that there’s more to life than the golf world and this little silly squabble that’s going on between tours, and all sorts of stuff.
“So, I think I just gained a little bit of perspective and once I sort of disconnected from it a little bit, I could see things a little clearer… It was a good reset.
“I don’t know if I fully like sat down to really reflect on stuff. LIke I never really had a chance to think about The Open at St. Andrews and everything that went on there.
“Just a ton of different stuff, and it was nice to have three weeks to just put all that stuff in the rearview mirror and just sort of try to focus on what’s ahead: three more majors, the entire golf season still to play. It was a good three weeks to sort of do all that and get refreshed and get ready for the next three months.”
Happy Birthday Rors, and good luck in boarding a fourth Wells Fargo victory stage coach this week.
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